Even after five years of living together in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco, something as simple as holding hands or sharing a kiss in public is unthinkable for Dayanny Marcelo and Mayela Villalobos.
There is an ever-present fear of being rejected or attacked in Guerrero, a state where same-sex relationships are not widely accepted and one of five in Mexico where same-sex marriage is still not allowed.
But this week they traveled the 235 miles (380 kilometers) to Mexico’s capital, where the city government hosted a mass wedding for same-sex couples as part of celebrations of LGBT Pride Month.
Under a tent set up in the plaza of the capital’s civil registry, along with about 100 other same-sex couples, Villalobos and Marcelo sealed their union Friday with a kiss while the wedding march played in the background.
Their ability to wed is considered one of the LGBT community’s greatest recent achievements in Mexico. It is now possible in 27 of Mexico’s 32 states and has been twice upheld by the Supreme Court.
Mexico, Brazil and Argentina top Latin America in the number of same-sex marriages.
Mariaurora Mota, a leader of the Mexican LGBTTTI+ Coalition, said the movement still is working to guarantee in all of Mexico the right to change one’s identity, have access to health care and social security and to let transsexual minors change their gender on their birth certificates.
Walking around Mexico City a day before their wedding, Marcelo and Villalobos confessed to feeling strange holding hands in the city streets. Displays of affection between same-sex couples in the capital are commonplace, but it was difficult to shed their inhibititions.
“I feel nervous,” said Villalobos, a 30-year-old computer science major, as Marcelo held her hand.
Villalobos grew up in the northern state of Coahuila in a conservative Christian community. She always felt an “internal struggle,” because she knew she had a different sexual orientation, but feared her family would reject her. “I always cried because I wanted to be normal,” she said.